Thursday, March 25th


  1. I like Lana Del Rey’s version of ‘For Free’ a lot. There is an unsubstantiated story that the song was based on Mitchell’s fleeting encounter with Lol Coxhill near Hungerford Bridge…good to think of a link from Lol Coxhill through Joni Michell to Lana Del Rey even if it is a fiction.

    • I remember that story, too, Calum, and was going to add it in when I googled to see if I could pin it down. But I remembered wrong and was looking for Evan Parker as the model, which came up blank, obviously. Steve Lake in MM said “Joni’s misdirected tribute to our own Lol Coxhill” in a review, and John Walters (Hi, John!) wrote in Lol’s Guardian obit: “playing solo soprano saxophone by Hungerford bridge on the Thames. (He is thought to be the main inspiration for Real Good for Free, Joni Mitchell’s moving paean to buskers, though she changed the instrument played by her hero from sax to clarinet.),” I am going to believe that it’s true…

    • From a Lol Coxhill interview in Ptolemaic Terrascope:
      You never knew who would be watching you – one day I believe there was a girl in the back of a car at some traffic lights for example?
      “(laughter) Yeah, I wonder if that’s true? I was playing outside the Festival Hall when Joni Mitchell did a gig there. I was busking afterwards and it’s been mentioned in a couple of books about her that she was in a cab and heard someone playing on a corner and for some reason she knew it was me and was going to come across to join me — but the lights changed and it never worked out. And then the record (‘Ladies of the Canyon’) came out and there’s this song ‘For Free’.”

  2. I shall try to catch the Norah Jones programme you mention. I recall seeing Brian Blade years ago (~ ’97) playing in Steve Earle’s band at a gig in Malmö. Earle introduced him by saying, ‘We stole Emmylou’s drummer’ and I’ve remembered his name ever since. He stood out that night and looked like he was having a blast (as did we, it was a memorable night).

    • Well, Steve Earle in Malmö sounds like a night to remember, Kevin… but! I have made this mistake, too, in another musician mix-up (see Lol Coxhill/Evan Parker above). Steve’s drummer was Brady Blade, not Brian. But they’re brothers! How cool is that, to have both reached the top of the tree in their chosen spheres…

      • Dang – you’re right. Even as I wrote it, a little voice in my brain was saying ‘Wasn’t his name Brady?’ Sure enough, Wikipedia (so it must be right) says Brady toured extensively with Steve Earle. I had no idea there two Blades (sounds like a razor advert) and I must have been confusing them for 20-odd years.

    • From an interview with the Blade Brothers on NPR…
      Brady Blade: When I’m walking through an airport and especially if I have cymbals or something, I’ll hear, “Brian!” “No, I’m Brady.” ”Oh.” It’s pretty funny. He’s a little thinner than I am. He’s a skinny kid — I still call him kid. I like my sandwiches, personally, so I have a little bit more weight on me. But I take that as the biggest compliment when they think I’m Brian Blade. That guy’s the best!

  3. Mick Steels says:

    John Hammond wrote back in the sixties “The more conscious she was of her style, the more mannered she became, and I suppose that artistically the worst thing that ever happened to her was the overwhelming success of her singing Strange Fruit”. A view I tend to agree with for the best of Billie the Teddy Wilson recs are the ones to go for, also the use of Prez in the film is a disgrace

    • With you there, Mick, although I’m still moved by the late Lady in Satin. I forgot to say that my criticism didn’t really include Audra Day, who I thought acted (and sang) pretty well.

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